While many of the TSA team are already well into the next generation with their shiny new PS4s, I’ve taken the mantle of sticking around with the ever-lovely PlayStation 3 as the site’s very special Old Stuff Correspondent (I totally didn’t just make that up).
Anyhow, like you may have seen from others around these parts, I’ve assembled some thoughts on some of my favourite games and moments from the past generation of video game consoles (from which I have owned just the one, I’m sure you’ll be able to figure out from my picks). So without further ado, read on for an exclusive world premiere of some words I just wrote.
Grand Theft Auto IV
I came into this generation a little late – in fact, I only really started gaming properly when I got the 18-rated Grand Theft Auto double pack on PS2 for Christmas when I was eleven. From there, of course, things have accelerated rapidly, and it seems appropriate that I finally jumped into the last generation in summer 2008 with the GTA IV PS3 bundle.
When I got my console, I also picked up Resistance: Fall of Man, MotorStorm and a couple of downloadable games, but it was much-maligned Idol Minds title, Pain, that I spent most of those first couple of days causing havoc in. It was basically a physics tech demo made into a cheap game, but it was a good laugh. But then I stuck the GTA IV disk in the drive and was taken aback.
As a GTA fan, the game was a perfect example to me of a generational leap – the bustling streets, the weighty cars, the gorgeous lighting. It actually took me a good few years to finally get through the game’s story mode, largely because whenever I booted the game up, I got distracted by blowing things up into shiny next-gen fireballs.
Of course, the recently-released GTA V improved on it in just about every way, but I’ll always have a soft spot for one of my first ever PS3 games.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
I’m a massive fan of the Uncharted series. I played through the first game back on a crappy tiny CRT TV when I first got a PS3, and again when I finally jumped into the HD era (and then again about another five times since – thanks in part to the addition of trophies). For me, as satisfying as the games’ combat and traversal is, the reason I love them is because of the characters and writing.
Ahead of Uncharted 2’s announcement I expected much of the same – a new setting somewhere, and then a bunch of visually similar levels, a bit of chatter, and an inevitable supernatural twist. What Uncharted 2 actually did was blow my mind a little bit (and remember we were still not even halfway through this generation). That first proper trailer, with all the locations and set pieces, and the introduction of Chloe? That gameplay reveal at E3 so many years ago with the building collapsing *into another one*? And the final game, a trip around a very pretty world, with all the gameplay refinements you’d expect from a sequel. My lord.
Shame on you, Uncharted 3.
It’s funny to see how many of these moments come from the earlier days of the generation. As much as I’ve been excited by many announcements over the years – Uncharted 2 as I’ve mentioned, MAG, BioShock Infinite etc. – none came anywhere close to how much I needed LittleBigPlanet in my life as soon as Phil Harrison introduced it at GDC many moons ago.
Much of the PS3 generation has been based around online interactions, and of course LittleBigPlanet is as well with the whole Create and Share thing, but the thing that I love about LBP is the really fun offline co-op. That first skateboard demo with four players all helping and hindering each other in equal amounts is a brilliant example of how the game offers something a little different to stuff like New Super Mario Bros Wii where you’re more or less just four players on the same screen doing your own thing.
‘Dynamic’, ‘visceral’, and the like are words that have grown to signify much of the games we play nowadays – at least there are still a couple of developers that remember that the point of games is fun.
This one’s a little different. The massive four-day Earls Court-hosted gaming event now known as EGX London was once a lowly little showcase in a converted old brewery in East London. On entering (after a tiny queue), my friend and I ran straight for the first station we saw. While others went looking for Killzone 2 or some of the PSN titles on show, we went and plonked ourselves down in front of Mirror’s Edge.
This was hardly one of those ‘oh my gosh, I’ve never heard of this and it’s amazing’ moments, as we’d been looking forward to the game since the reveal at PlayStation Day in London earlier that year. But playing it for the first time, with that first-person parkour sucking us in, we failed to notice the crowd that had begun to form around us. We finally did notice it when we missed our first jump, fell to our deaths (complete with bone crunch), and everyone around us sighed.
Cue a fair bit more sighing, laughing, and gasping. I like to think we sold a good few people on the game that day (if not quite convincing them we were actually any good at games), and as great as the final game was, it was certainly missing something without the audience. Well there’s always the PS4 sequel and that Share button…
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
Back when I was in school, my friends and I were big fans of Smash Bros (Lucario FTW!), and for as long as we’ve been playing it, we’ve been imagining how the same formula could apply to the Sony franchises we know and love. Crash, Spyro, Kratos and Jen from Primal fighting it out on the streets of Infamous 2’s New Marais? Yes please.
In the end, PlayStation All-Stars wasn’t quite everything we were wanting, largely down to the game’s budget and third party rights issues, but as a first attempt at that game we’d always wanted to play, it’s not too bad. Plus the Vita version is fantastic (thanks Bluepoint!) and Cross-Buy is still one of my favourite features to come out of the whole generation.
It kinda bums me out that the game was poorly received/sold poorly and we’ll likely never see a sequel. But hey, we wanted something for years and it actually happened, and that doesn’t actually happen all that often. So who wants to take on my Sly or Jak?